Saturday, July 14, 2012

Blog pre-empted; blog pre-written

Ellen gets back from Japan tonight.  She will only be here a short time, and it is almost time to go retrieve her from the Detroit Airport.  I have been busy all day and haven't written anything for today's post, but I found this piece that I wrote a year or so ago as an 'assignment' for my on-again-off-again writing group (Ann, Nancy.. are you listening?).  

The idea was to write a short story involving conversation, but no line of dialog can be more than three words.  This is actually a true story, but my name has been changed to protect the ... well, ME!   Actually, the student's name was changed too.

9:00 a.m:  Quiet.  No interruptions.  Professor Jane Heissenberg was enjoying her first cup of steaming coffee and looking over some data when she heard a knock on the door. 

“Got a minute?”

Jane looked up from her desk.  Standing in the doorway was the large frame of Mark Jameson, a student in her freshman chemistry class. 

“Sure Mark,” she replied, closing her research notebook and reaching for the freshman text.  She motioned toward the chair directly opposite her own.

Mark plopped his backpack down and flopped into the seat.  He sprawled out, legs extended, arms dangling limply at his sides, leaning so far back that he was staring at the ceiling. 

“I need help.” 

“Are you ok?”  

“Yeah, just tired.”

“Up late studying?”

”Morning football practice.”

“Oh.”  Wondering why he would come to see her about football practice, she took another sip of coffee.

“Tough morning.  Sprints” 

“Not a sprinter?”

He shook his head. “Guys were puking.” 

“Sounds awful.”

"Yeah.  Everyone."

"Really awful."

“It’s worth it.”

Jane wasn't so sure about that, but took another sip of coffee and waited.
Finally, with great effort and a lot of groaning, Mark sat up and opened his backpack.  He removed the chemistry book and some crumpled sheets of paper.  Jane was relieved to see the familiar equations; he was indeed looking for chemistry help.  Thrusting the paper in front of her, he pointed to problem number eight and said, “No clue.”

She smiled.  These problems were really pretty easy, but students always struggled with them.  She had done several examples in class.  She gave him a hint.   “Enthalpy of reaction?”

“What about it?"


No response.

“Products minus…”

Suddenly his face brightened.  Completing the mantra that she taught the class, Mark chanted:  “Products minus reactants?” 

“Yes, that’s right!”    She really did not understand why students found this concept so difficult.  Just sum the enthalpies of formation of the products and the enthalpies of formation of the reactants and then subtract. 

He nodded, remembering the chant, but asked, “Where are they?”

“Where are what?”

“The numbers.”

“The enthalpies?”  

“Whatever they are.”

“In your book.”

“But where?”

“Appendix C”

“Where is that?”

He opened the book and she helped him locate the data tables in the appendix of his book.  As he scrolled down the columns of numbers, he found the enthalpy one of the products and wrote it down. He closed the book. 

Jane said, “You’re not done.”

“I need more?”

Pointing to the chemical equation, she said “All of them.”

Mark was astonished.  “All of them?”

“Well, yes…”

“There are six!”

“Well, yes….”

“This really sucks”

“Worse than puking!?”

Mark considered this question and as he remembered the carnage of the morning football practice, he smiled and then laughed.

“Ok. You win.”

Today I am grateful for Ellen's arrival home from Japan.  She's heading back soon, but both of my kids will be home for a week!  How cool is that.  

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